Week 8 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 4th May 2008

When I wake up and look out into the bay I can only see a tiny motoryacht - all the big cruise ships seem to have gone. It is Reverie and I find that she can be hired for about €450,000 per week. Of course, this is Euros, not real money but even so is does seem a lot.

Incidentally, in Gibraltar, the pound is the official currency but in many shops they will ask you which currency you wish to be ripped off in. We regularly buy the same ice creams in the same shops and the price is always different. Morrisons garage seems to be the best place to buy ice creams casually.

If you like your ice cream frozen then you need to buy them in Spanish petrol stations as many of the Gibraltar shops seek to economise by having their refrigerator running at low power - the phrase "too clever by half" comes to mind. In Gibraltar I am often left with the impression that people try to make money by being cunning and tricky rather than by offering good products and services at good prices.

Later we set off for Ronda again and this time we stop to look at the storks near the Juan Carlos restaurant at Pueblo Nuevo de Guadiaro. Nobody else seems interested in them and we are regarded by the patrons of the restaurant as being somewhat unusual - more unusual than the sight of storks nesting on top of high voltage towers (note the insulators at the bottom of the left hand photo). There are other storks on top of the floodlights who are clearly smoking something from North Africa (only about half an hour away as the stork flies - maybe quicker if you are in a real flap).

If this were the UK, they would all be forced to go on a Health and Safety course.

Monday 5th May 2008

Today is a Bank Holiday in Gibraltar as well as in the UK and the sun is shining. There is a four masted sailing ship, Wind Star, in the harbour which is a sister ship of Wind Spirit but I can't be bothered to show a photograph as it looks exactly the same. Sorry. Maybe next time.

On the TV they are banging on about how Herr Fritzl must have had help to install the heavy door into the cellar. Of course he had help - the Government gave him a grant to build it and it was a totally legitimate enterprise. Every Austrian family had to have a fall out shelter and this was his. He probably got builders in and proudly showed the neighbours round it. Get it into your heads that for 99% of the time these weirdos are indistinguishable from the rest of us. When the transport company that Peter Sutcliffe ( the Yorkshire Ripper) worked for needed some publicity photos, which of their 120 drivers do you think they chose as pin-up boy? Yup, good old Peter. Who do you think used to give the secretaries a lift home at night saying "You can't be too careful with that headbanger about"? Yup, good old Pete again.

After the event no doubt people will claim they always knew there was something a bit odd about Peter but at the time they thought he was the most normal and attractive person out of over one hundred drivers. Think about that.

The real question is why didn't Mrs Fritzl ask him if she could maybe use the cellar? To store some junk in maybe or for the kids to play in? I suspect the answer is that he was very assertive and just told her to mind her own business. Or maybe she thought he had some strange sexual thing going on and didn't want to interfere. Many German women accept that papa will go off to visit a tart when they go shopping so what's the problem? Maybe the cellar is full of blow up women or self strangulation devices or whatever.

The idea that sex is terribly important and something to get all het up about is very Anglo Saxon. In many places sex is regarded as no different to eating or farting - a necessary human urge which needs to be handled politely but is no reason to run screaming to a divorce lawyer or "therapist". In Japan, wives would organise a Geisha girl for the husband's birthday and the neighbours would be very impressed if she was known to be exceptionally pretty or expensive.

Bear in mind also that in Germany incest does not have quite the same horror as it does in the UK. If you dig around you will find serious accounts of daughters offering to sleep with Papa when Mummy has a headache. You may have read in the Times a few years back of a Scandinavian academic confiding in a friend how his beauty queen daughter wanted to sleep with him but he declined because his wife was not too keen on the idea.

Here is an extract from an official German Government publication:

"Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex," reads the booklet regarding 1-3 year olds. "The child touches all parts of their father's body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same."
[Source: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/jul/07073008.html]

Obviously, locking somebody up is unacceptable under any circumstances but trying to judge who is guilty of what without understanding the culture is difficult. The Portguese police felt that the McCanns were responsible for their daughter's death because the idea of leaving your children at home while you go out to eat felt totally alien and weird. Think about that too.

Remember, in Singapore, they eat dogs. And in France they eat horses. And in some parts of England people only shower once per day.

Tuesday 6th May 2008

I spot a Rhododendron and take a photo. It is nice enough but if it were the only flower in the world people would travel thousands of miles to see it.

I know nothing about gardening but here is a tip. A few years ago I moved to a house which had a garden full of huge Rhododendrons and Azaleas. It was like going through a jungle so I decided to do some pruning. I read extensively and searched the web and the unanimous opinion of the "experts" was that the harder you cut them back the better they grow. Ideally, the experts said, cut them back to about 10" from the ground. So, I did. You know what happened of course - half of them died. In the case of "tree-like" Rhododendrons ie those with a single solid trunk, they all died.

So, be a bit careful with your Rhododendrons and Azaleas and bear in mind that "experts" can be fallible.

Wednesday 7th May 2008

A missive arrives from one of my deeply placed moles:

Friends of Cherie Blair, wife of ex Prime Minister Tony Blair, denied last night that she was preparing to challenge Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Despite the denial sources close to the Blairs insist that a plan is being prepared. As one of them stated, "Gordon (Brown) has blown it. He spent years preparing a plan of his first few weeks in office and this went very well indeed. Rather like a chess player who builds a wonderful new opening strategy which initially causes gasps of admiration in his own corner and gasps of dismay amongst his opponents. The problem is, however, that once the opening moves have been played out, things don’t necessarily go as expected and this is what has happened with Gordon. And now the electorate has given him a huge kick in the pants. His USP (Unique Selling Proposition) was supposed to be that he was a statesman rather than an opportunist, but he now looks like a lightweight opportunist and not a very good one at that.

Parallels are being drawn between the success of Hillary Clinton, who was clearly the brains behind the Presidency of Bill Clinton, and Cherie Blair who, under her professional name of Cherie Booth, is one of the country's top lawyers. It has always been clear to many that Mrs Blair was the one with the brains and the ambition, and to a large extent her husband was merely the "front man".

Mrs Blair has a major image problem to overcome but as another friend observed, "If the USA can love a bitch like Hillary then the British can learn to love Cherie!!

Thursday 8th May 2008

Today I decide to take my new slippers for a test drive. My previous pair cost £60 from Russell & Bromley about ten years ago and every time I look at them I feel a sense of resentment at all that money spent on a pair of slippers. They are still in excellent condition as far as I am concerned but my girlfriend says they are knackered. Actually, when I look at them again she may have a point. A little cuffed at the heal. So, time to try out the new slippers purchased from Messrs Marks and Spencer for a very sensible £5.

The first thing I notice is that they are wonderfully warm and the soles are soft to walk on - no hard jarring. After a few minutes they are hot and walking is strange. After a few more minutes my feet are on fire and I am suffering from sea sickness as they wobble alarmingly as I walk up and down. This was not in the script. Finally, I throw them in the dustbin but I have to say that they were amazingly good value for money.

Later on I have to fly somewhere. The plane is a twin engine jet and we join it the old fashioned way via steps at the front and back. As I climb up the front steps the fan blades of the engine are rotating slowly and the engine is making a noise like stones being shaken in a tin can. The man in front of me looks down at the engine and me and I say "That doesn't sound healthy, does it?". As I say that the man behind me says exactly the same thing, word for word to me but, like sheep we all climb onto the airplane. As I climb on I say to the steward that the engine is rattling and he very curtly replies "that is perfectly normal sir". I explain that I have been on dozens of planes but I have never heard an engine rattle like an old tin can but he is not interested.

I decide to sit right at the back as in a crash the rear of the aircraft fairs better (I think - but why is first class at the front then - maybe it is deliberate?). At the rear there is a stewardess and I push my way back through the people getting on the plane and tell her about the rattling engine. She is slightly more interested and says she will phone through to the flight deck. I sit down in my seat. After a while the stewardess arrives and says the crew say it is because the plane is facing into the wind and the wind is making the blades rattle. I cannot see why the blades of an engine would rattle and I wonder whether to get off the plane. While I am contemplating what to do, the steward arrives and he is more interested now. The key fact, evidently, is that the fan blades move in their sockets - hence the rattle. That amazes me (and still does).

When we get off the plane I grin at the steward and say "It worked, then". He grins back.

Next day I search on Google but can find nothing on rattling plane engines apart from an obscure reference in a patent application "... a linkage bar geometry which holds closure pressure on the blades to reduce rattling ..."

As usual, I was the only one to make a fuss. What was going through everybody's head? Of the 200 or so people on board at least 50 people must have heard the noise and known that on any reasonable basis it was very unusual. Why were people not making a real fuss and refusing to stay on board without an explanation? They would rather risk possible death than make a fuss? Or maybe they believe that the crew must know what they are doing? If so they should watch "Air Crash Investigation" on the National Geographic Channel.

This all reminds me of the Jewish joke where a group of Jews are about to be shot by the Germans and one of them starts screaming abuse at the Germans. One of the other Jews turns to his companion and says "There he goes again - always causing trouble."

Friday 9th May 2008

I get up late and find that I have terrible hay fever - I sneeze non-stop for hours. Turns out that May is the high month for this part of Southern Spain. Well, we are not actually in Spain but the pollen don't know that.

Later on I work on my anti- smoking advertisement. It seems to me totally obvious that the more you tell kids that something is dangerous, the more they will want to do it. So, we need to point out that smoking is for people who are shy and inadequate - it is a substitute for sucking a dummy.

Maybe schools should introduce compulsory classes in drug use? "Oh God, not another double period of drug snorting - I think I'll stay in bed".

That is why Christianity always does better in times of persecution. In fact, if I were a Christian (I am not, thank God) I would see the Church of England as the most subtle invention of the Devil. A Devilish device to destroy Christianity by boring and /or irritating everybody to death.

If you really want Christianity to flourish you should literally start throwing Christians to the Lions. No mamby pamby Health and Safety nonesense - just strip them naked (to avoid damaging the Lions' teeth) and chuck them into the arena. Actually, if you made sure the Christians were young, female and tasty (both literally and figuratively ) this could really catch on. Rather than naked, maybe clothe them in edible underwear on the grounds of good taste and make sure the Lions are slowed down a bit. So the Christians can run around for a while and maybe even climb up the odd tree? Not big trees as that would slow it down too much but maybe very thin flimsy trees? And maybe have little ponds and muddy swamps? This could be big, really big.

So, what do you reckon, beardie, are we on?

Saturday 10th May 2008

Overlooking Gibraltar harbour is like sitting outside the lady's toilet in a nightclub - eventually you get to see all the girls, both beautiful and less beautiful. Today's less beautiful girl is the car transporter Alliance Norfolk. Named after a building society, they have written her name in faint grey letters low down on the hull so it is extremely hard to see - well, you would, wouldn't you? Like being called Hortense or Clarence. Not something to shout about. Also good for avoiding speed cameras - not that that is such a big problem for them, I imagine.

An article in The Times today helpfully tells you how to make a very big bang. A house in Harrow was evidently blown to bits killing one person and seriously injuring another. A police spokesman believes that it may have resulted from an argument over somebody's boyfriend.

The Times thinks they may have used methyl ethyl ketone peroxide which "can be made from readily available ingredients using instructions found on the internet". Well, I have to say I couldn't find out how to make it but thanks for the tip. If I ever want to blow up somebody's house for leering at my girlfriend I'll bear it in mind.

To quote the men in blue: “... they may not have intended to cause this amount of damage.”

You have to hand it to the police - razor sharp analysis, as usual. My guess is they only wanted to blow the front door off to teach her a lesson. So she would have to go right back to the beginning of the game or rewind or something.

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